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New Rules of Lifting for Women Stage 1 Recap

by Meghann on July 19, 2011

It’s over. I’ve survived. Stage 1 of New Rules of Lifting for Women is done. πŸ™‚


Do I feel stronger? Possibly.

Can I lift more then when when I started? Hell Yeah!

Am I ready to kick some professional weight lifter butt? HA! No way!

BUt, now I’ve got guns! Sort of.


A Background Refresher

Going into The New Rules of Lifting for Women I knew very, very little about lifting or strength training. I pretty much soaked up all the book had to say and went for it. Stage 1 is only the beginning of the 6 month plan, but it’s also the largest. Stage 1 is meant to introduce newbies to free weights and allow them to steadily grow and build on their strength. This was great for me – as a newbie – because I really was starting from square one here.

I started the plan hoping to complete 3 strength training sessions a week, but eventually had to drop down to 2 when training for the August Half Ironman began to be too much. Dropping down wasn’t terrible and it allowed me to really appreciate and pay attention to each work out.

So, How did I do? Let’s have a look. πŸ™‚


Stage 1
Workout A
SquatsWorkout 130 +bar
Workout 890 +bar
Seated RowWorkout 140 lbs
Workout 870 lbs
Step-UpWorkout 112 lbs
Workout 825 lbs
Workout B
DeadliftWorkout 140 lbs
Workout 880 lbs
Dumbbell Shoulder PressWorkout 112 lbs
Workout 820 lbs
Wide Grip Lat Pull DownWorkout 150 lbs
Workout 870 lbs
LungeWorkout 115 lbs
Workout 825 lbs

*Note I only included the stats for the workouts that required an increase in weight.

As you can tell, over the course of a little more than a month my strength improved greatly. I went up across the board and more than doubled a few of them. However, this may just be because I started out too light. The biggest challenge in the beginning was figuring out what was the right weight I should be lifting. It was hard trying to figure it out for myself and not just having someone tell me what to lift.

My one complaint towards the end was the few spots where I did get stuck on increasing weight. I was lifting 20 lbs on the Dumbbell Shoulder Press with no problem at 10 reps, but when the reps dropped to 8 – and I was suppose to increase the weight – I could barely do 1 or 2 reps with the 25 lbs. I wasn’t sure what to do in that situation. Keep doing the 20lbs at 10 reps or the now recommended 8 reps? I ended up doing the 8 reps, but felt like I was stepping backwards.

I aslo felt stage 1 to be a little long to be doing to same moves. This is the longest stage of the plan and I’m happy it’s behind me.


Right Bicep11in11.15in
Left Bicep10.75in11in
Right Thigh21.5in21.30in
Left Thigh21in21in

Not bad. Up where I want to be and down where I want to be.


Screen shot 2011-07-19 at 11.32.06 AM.png

End of Stage 1 Photos: 7/15/11

IMG_9630.jpg IMG_9629.jpg IMG_9628.jpg

Ha! I think I need better photos. I tried the natural light this time, but they still look funky. Taking progress is not my forte (especially when I’m begging Derek to do on his way out the door for work.) I’ll try better for next round. πŸ™‚

Bring on Stage 2!

1 Megan @ Life As Megan KNows It July 19, 2011 at 1:38 pm

You look great! Wonderful progress!
Megan @ Life As Megan KNows It recently posted..kinda feeling better

2 Fit Chick Britt July 19, 2011 at 1:41 pm

You look awesome. I can tell you’ve made progress by the photos. Way to go for sticking through this AND HIM training!!
Fit Chick Britt recently posted..RNR Marathon Training Recap Week 1

3 Elle July 19, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Great timing…I’m starting Stage 1 today!
Elle recently posted..Our Growing Family

4 Joelle (On A Pink Typewriter) July 19, 2011 at 1:46 pm

You can tell you made progress.. I was never into lifting weights, but I’ve actually since firsthand how it really DOES make a difference in your body when you add it to your routine.. Perhaps I should get that book, but I sort of just lift haphazardly when at the gym. I need a trainer. πŸ˜‰
Joelle (On A Pink Typewriter) recently posted..How to roast a chicken on a Monday

5 Sarah for Real July 19, 2011 at 1:47 pm

I was looking forward to this post because I’m working through Stage 1 right now. Tell me, did you find workout A or B to be different in difficulty?

I really like A because B seems too easy. I find the deadlifts a little bit too muscle-man for me to feel comfortable with and I can’t figure out how to secure weights to them so I’ve just been using the bar. That might be part of my problem haha.

6 Meghann July 19, 2011 at 2:23 pm

I liked B more because of the deadlifts – they were my favorite and where I really felt strong. πŸ™‚ My gym has bars with weight already added in 10lb increments so I’ve been using those.

7 Emma July 21, 2011 at 8:19 pm

was your deadlift weight including the bar or just added weight? Great Job! I am wrapping up Stage 1 as well. Excited to start a new routine in Stage 2, even though it means testing out new moves which always feel weird to begin with for me.

8 Ashley O. @ The Vegetable Life July 19, 2011 at 1:48 pm

You can definetly see progress in your photos!!!! Awesome job with the amount of weight you were able to add! Thats incredible!
Ashley O. @ The Vegetable Life recently posted..My 1st Double Digit Run & Parmesan Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

9 Gina @ Running to the Kitchen July 19, 2011 at 1:48 pm

I just posted my recap of stage 1 yesterday. Looks like we started and finished right around the same weights. I too struggles with knowing what to do when moving from 20-25 was too much and then the lower reps seemed counterintuitive with the same weight.
Your measurements are a lot more substantial than mine. I was kind of shocked that my biceps didn’t measure any differently yet I feel like they’re bigger and I’m stronger. Ready for stage 2!
Gina @ Running to the Kitchen recently posted..Sidelined with cookies

10 Lisa @ Sunny Seed Stories July 19, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Woah, girl! Get it! You are truly a weight-lifting inspiration! To me, at least. πŸ™‚
Lisa @ Sunny Seed Stories recently posted..Lisa’s Story #7

11 Dori July 19, 2011 at 1:51 pm

You definitely made great progress. That is my problem too, I would have no idea what weights to use initially. One day I will worry about that, for now I stick to classes where I’m told what to do!
Dori recently posted..Boomer’s Cystic Fibrosis Run to Breathe 10K Race Recap

12 Holly @ The Runny Egg July 19, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Same thing happens to me when I try to take progress photos — I can never tell because the photos are either slanted strange or I’m not wearing the exact same clothes.

Your increase in weight is impressive though!
Holly @ The Runny Egg recently posted..My Home Gym

13 Jessica @ Sushi and Sit-Ups July 19, 2011 at 1:56 pm

You’re doing awesome and looking great! I can’t believe you’re tackling this and half ironman training! So awesome and motivating!
Jessica @ Sushi and Sit-Ups recently posted..Gym Alternatives

14 Cait's Plate July 19, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Woohoo! You’re looking AWESOME. So excited to see how phase 2 goes. On another note, I REALLY need to get this book! So jealous of all the muscles everyone’s sporting around the blog world as a result of it!
Cait’s Plate recently posted..Yum

15 girl in the pink July 19, 2011 at 1:58 pm

You look fabulous! You are so brave to post bathing suit pics and measurements – awesome!! πŸ™‚

16 Shayla @ The Good Life July 19, 2011 at 2:07 pm

You look awesome Meghann!! In the photos you can definitely tell that you’re tightening up and adding muscle definition and tone to your body. Keep up the good work! πŸ™‚
Shayla @ The Good Life recently posted..Warm Vs. Cold Foods & Rock β€˜n Roll Love

17 courtney (pancakes and postcards) July 19, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Good job! I should really do this. I just kinda go in and lift 15 lb dumbbells until my arms get tired and then leave. Not the best MO…
courtney (pancakes and postcards) recently posted..Weekend Wrap-Up: GrubWithUs, Harry and AIDS Walk SF

18 Stephanie @ Running in the Kitchen July 19, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Great progress! I’m so glad you like NROLW. I did the program back in 2007 and it got me hooked on lifting heavy. Pumping heavy iron has not only helped me improve my running speed but also prevented me from getting injured. It’s a really fun program. When you are done I recommend you check out Venus Index – it’s intense but a great way to mix it up. Can’t wait to see what happens in Stage 2!!!

19 Meghann July 19, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Thanks! I’ll look into Venus Index!

20 melissa (fitnessnyc) July 19, 2011 at 2:16 pm

That’s impressive! Nice work. Derek, relish in your chance to be a photog of your gorgeous girlfriend πŸ™‚

21 Kristen @ notsodomesticated July 19, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Wow, good for you!!!! I’ve heard of that book and I was curious to try it. Thanks for keeping everyone up to date on your progress!

22 Margo July 19, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Congrats! You look fabulous! Just started reading the New Rules of Lifting for Women. I’ve found it really interesting so far. After seeing your fantastic progress, I can’t wait to try out the routines.

23 Samantha @ Bikini Birthday July 19, 2011 at 2:31 pm

Awesome! You made some major gains! 135lb squats is impressive.

24 Kristen @ The Concrete Runner July 19, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Lookin’ good, girl! That seems like a really short weight training program, and has absolutely no emphasis on chest exercises, which I find interesting. As for your question about the 25# dumbbells being too hard and the 20# being too light, you could either just do more reps (12-15) with the 20# or do as many as you can with the 25# until you are able to do 8 reps. The gym I belonged to in the summer during college had 2.5# increases for dumbbells, which was amazing. My gym now doesn’t and it sucks because a lot of times I’m in between weights.

Keep up the good work!
Kristen @ The Concrete Runner recently posted..running + pregnancy update

25 Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn July 19, 2011 at 3:16 pm

You are motivating me to lift more and that is NOT an easy thing to do.
Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn recently posted..It’s not every day that you meet your idol.

26 KLM July 19, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Awesome work! I started this program last summer but agree with you that phase one is too long β€”Β I got bored. Still, I never found another program I liked better, so now I’m on week 5 of phase one again. I’m hoping to actually make it to phase two this time!
KLM recently posted..Beet Chips

27 Mary July 19, 2011 at 3:20 pm

you look great! you’ll get to where you want to be, just keep pluggin’ away! πŸ™‚
Mary recently posted..Keeping fit and Healthy while You’re Awake and the Whole World is Asleep.

28 Jane @ Broccolini & Cheese July 19, 2011 at 3:27 pm

This makes me hopeful, I am starting tonight!! Great job!
Jane @ Broccolini & Cheese recently posted..Take me to my city by the Bay.

29 Trish July 19, 2011 at 3:52 pm

I can really see the difference. Nice work! You made a lot of progress. I am looking forward to seeing where you’re at in another couple of months. Awesome stuff!! πŸ™‚

30 Caroline July 19, 2011 at 3:56 pm

You are awesome for putting up these pics! I’ve been doing a lot of these workouts (not as closely as you are) for a few months and I’ve been seeing good results too. Keep it up girl!
Caroline recently posted..The River Club at Confluence Park

31 gasem July 19, 2011 at 4:20 pm

For smaller increments just add 1 or 2 lb wrist weights to the weight

eg 20lb dumbbell + 2 lb wrist weight =22 lbs

32 Meghann July 19, 2011 at 4:52 pm

Great idea! Thanks!

33 Ashley @ This Is The Place July 19, 2011 at 4:43 pm

Nice job!! Note about the increasing weights. I talked to my husband about this (he’s my lifting coach). He can increase weight from 50 to 55lbs and it’s only a 10% increase in weight. When I increase from 15 to 20lbs, it’s a 30% increase in weight! That is a huge difference! So don’t forget that when you’re evaluating your progress. You’re doing awesome!

34 Abby July 19, 2011 at 4:46 pm

You look awesome! Seeing all your reviews has really made me want to purchase the book and try it out. (Since you mentioned the pictures, I think if Derek took them with the camera pointed straight at you as opposed to what I’m assuming is his height I think it would be a truer shot of what you look like. Like if he squatted down so his head is level with yours, if that makes sense. The downwards angle is a little deceiving).

35 Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife July 19, 2011 at 4:58 pm

wooohoo! Nice job! And that increase in weight is seriously stellar. I love how lifting weights makes me feel stronger, fitter, and gives me more confidence.

It is a WIN-win, I tell ya! Way to go πŸ™‚
Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife recently posted..How To Shed Body Fat

36 Brittany @ Itty Bits of Balance July 19, 2011 at 5:28 pm

You look great in both the before & after pictures πŸ˜€
Brittany @ Itty Bits of Balance recently posted..Vegan Wheat-Free Pumpkin Oatmeal Pancake

37 Ali @ Ali Runs July 19, 2011 at 5:33 pm

You go girl! I can definitely see changes in the Before and After pictures. Keep up the good work πŸ™‚
Ali @ Ali Runs recently posted..Moonlight Sail & Cast Away Party

38 Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun July 19, 2011 at 5:41 pm

You look great! I can certainly see a difference in your abs/stomach and arms/shoulders. Looking hot! Not that you didn’t already though. πŸ™‚
Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun recently posted..The No Talking In Bed Rule?

39 Amy July 19, 2011 at 6:39 pm

You can definitely see progress way to go Meghann!
Amy recently posted..First Fat Comments, Now Too Skinny

40 Emily @ Savory and Savage July 19, 2011 at 6:43 pm

You can definitely see a difference in the before and after photos. You look more toned and muscular in the second photos.

Congrats on finishing stage 1!!!
Emily @ Savory and Savage recently posted..Crab sushi

41 Emily @ Comfortable Home Life July 19, 2011 at 6:45 pm

I started stage 1 yesterday and I’m quite sore today! Can’t wait to get some of the results you seem to be seeing. You go girl!

42 Seema July 19, 2011 at 6:51 pm

You look great! I will definitely have to look into that book :).

43 Christine @ Burning It Off July 19, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Amazing progress, both in your photos and in your weight increases! I also couldn’t get past 20lbs for the dumbbell shoulder press (could barely finish my reps at that weight). It can be tricky trying to figure out how much weight to add each time but as long as you feel you’re challenging yourself, then I don’t think it’s stepping backwards.
Christine @ Burning It Off recently posted..Cover Girl

44 Tracy @ Commit To Fit July 19, 2011 at 10:55 pm

I have really been wanted to read that book. You look great and I am looking forward to reading more about your progress!
Tracy @ Commit To Fit recently posted..Vanilla Cake with Buttercream Icing and Coconut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

45 Kristin @ FoodFash July 19, 2011 at 11:03 pm

Great job!!! Looks like you’re ready for Prana Flow πŸ™‚ (I have a gazillion classes to use up…)
Kristin @ FoodFash recently posted..Off To Make Schakolad, In Pictures

46 Alex July 20, 2011 at 8:37 am

Your back muscles looks awesome!!!

I just finished Stage 1 on Monday and I definitely feel stronger. I’m excited to start Stage 2 next week- Keep it up!
Alex recently posted..Wedding Flashback

47 Julie (A Case of the Runs) July 20, 2011 at 1:14 pm

Hmmm, interesting! I am definitely closer to your “Workout 1” numbers than “Workout 8.” πŸ˜‰
Julie (A Case of the Runs) recently posted..Graduation Dinner – Mi Piace

48 Melissa July 21, 2011 at 11:12 am

That’s awesome you stuck with this, I think I’d probably drive myself nuts with the repetitiveness. I need to change my workouts often or I get bored. Glad you’re feeling stronger – you look great!

49 Edan January 23, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Do you still have your google calendar for your lifting workouts? I am trying to figure out how to start stage one of NROLFW and it is a bit confusing :/

50 Lauri January 25, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Question about the program…I skimmed through it last night but didn’t read it all yet. I can’t give up my cardio but the book focuses a lot on resting, even on the off days of lifting. I wanted to definetley do cardio on the days I don’t lift (elliptical, running or a gym class like Step) but I also might throw in some cardio on the days I DO lift. Nothign crazy, maybe just 20 minutes or so. Is this a no-no?
Lauri recently posted..Pumpkin Patch Birthday Party

51 Meghann January 25, 2012 at 4:13 pm

I’m not an expert and have been incorporating some cardio on my lifting days just because of my training schedule. I know in later stages there are HIIT workouts that you do on lifting days with the program.

52 Laura June 10, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Hey Meghann, did you record your AMRAP workouts (the bonus workouts)? Just curious to see how you did there. I think I started out with way too light of a weight for squats (30 lb) and did like 70 of them.. LOL

53 Whitney November 17, 2013 at 9:17 pm

I remembered how you had done this and I just bought the book today! It was fun reading back through your posts and helped me to understand it better. I was a little confused that there are only like 6 exercises in stage 1 workouts so I’m glad you talked about that. Excited to get this going!

54 Maryanne November 10, 2015 at 6:25 am

I just got the book and I guess I may be slow. Hoping someone can help.
Phase one is working through the 4 areas 4 times and increasing weights right. There are 2 workout plans to use in phase one.
Is this it….

55 Destini Pettus January 26, 2016 at 11:11 pm

Hi, I have started this workout plan but I am really scared of the amount of calories in the diet plan. According to the book, I should be eating 1900 calories on non-workout days and 2100 calories on workout days. You got such amazing results that I was wondering if you could share some details on your nutrition experience throughout this plan. And also, your experience with the “extra” workouts he talks about in the book because I would love to include some.

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